Tools For Spying On Your Competitor’s Display Ads


Just go ahead and admit it. We’ve all had a fascination with spies since we were kids. That’s why we flock to spy movies like Mission Impossible and secretly pretend we could live a life as adventurous as Jason Bourne and James Bond.

So maybe that’s why we look for marketing software that gives us the feeling that we are spying on our competitors. Well, that and the competitive advantage we can gain.

SEO And PPC Spy Programs

For SEO and PPC, there are software programs with cool spy names like SpyFu and SEO Spy Glass along with many more tools that may not have cool spy names but still allow you to watch your competitor’s every move as if you were wearing night vision goggles.

SEO and PPC tools are great for gleaning information about which keywords your competitors are using and which ads are working for them in the search engines.

You can even see some of the sites that are linking back to your competitor’s landing pages. Most people don’t realize that all that information can be very applicable to a display advertising campaign or media buy.

Just think – if you had a list of sites that were linking back to your competitor’s website. How many of those sites have not only the audience you want to reach but also opportunities to advertise!

Spy Training Mission – Display Advertising

One of the biggest challenges with competitive research has always been figuring out where your competitors buy display advertising, how their ad language differs by audience and, most importantly, which banner ads work for them. Some of you may feel more like Austin Powers or Johnny English, rather than James Bond, when it comes to spying in the land of display advertising and media buying.

Stop playing “I spy” games with your teams where you share screen captures, URLs and notes as you run across your competition’s banner ads either accidentally or during tedious research. The alternatives to your inner office version of “I spy” are much faster, more effective and fun.

Before I hand over some cool new spy tools for you to experiment with, I need to brief you on your next covert mission…if you are willing to accept it. These new tools will give you the ability to:

  • Type in a keyword and see which text ads and image ads perform the best for those keywords and phrases
  • Type in a specific URL and know which advertiser’s ads perform the best on that landing page
  • Discover new traffic sources and create a list of specific placements that have already been uncovered by your competitors and are currently being used to reach your target audience
  • Track ad testing patterns of your competitors

Competitive Intelligence Programs For Display Ad Networks

I found three programs that dig deep into the competitive landscape for text and image ads on display networks. Each program has a very unique spin on how it presents competitive information. I have used them all and there are things that I like about each program, so please research each of them carefully to decide which features fit the needs of your agency, clients or company.

What Runs Where

What Runs Where supports over 40 ad networks across several countries and will allow you to track a list of competitive advertisers, alerting you when they launch new text or banner ads.


AdBeat Uncover Display Advertising Strategies

AdBeat supports all the major networks plus a few more (between 25 and 30 ad networks). AdBeat recently announced a new feature called Top Phrases that shows the most important keywords the advertiser is using in their creative.


AdGooroo Display Insight

AdGooroo supports 14 advertising networks worldwide and offers robust reporting including historical trending charts.

Your Next Mission

Now that you have several new marketing gadgets to play with, please let me know if there are other tools out there that have some of the same capabilities as these three. Let me know what you like or don’t like about each of these tools!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Shelley Ellis is the VP of Media at Advice Interactive Group where she develops plans that strive to achieve the most effective spend plans possible to meet client’s digital marketing and targeting goals.



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